• Nuclear proliferationSeismologists "hear" the nuclear explosions in North Korea

    International experts are far from convinced that North Korea actually conducted its first H-bomb test, which was reported by the country last week.Seismology alone cannot tell whether it was a hydrogen bomb or not, but seismologists say that what emerges from the existing data is that last week’s seismic events in North Korea were slightly smaller than a similar event in 2013.

  • IEDsRemote-controlled robot inspects suitcase bombs

    Abandoned items of luggage are frequently found at airports and train stations. This is a case for the emergency services, which have to assume that these items might contain bombs. They must assess the potential threat quickly, avert any possible danger, and preserve evidence for criminal proceedings. In the future, police will have the support of a remote-controlled sensor system as they go about their duties. Researchers are developing this sensor suite in cooperation with industry partners and criminal investigation authorities.

  • Forensic seismologyForensic seismology tested on 2006 munitions depot explosion in Baghdad

    Seismometers were developed to record earthquakes, but then they turned out to be useful for monitoring nuclear tests, and now people are using them in all kinds of creative ways. Seismologists could distinguish, mortars, rockets, improvised explosive devices, helicopters, and drones from four miles away. In 2005 and 2006 ten seismometers were installed in northern and northeastern Iraq to study the seismic properties of the Earth’s crust in that area so that it would be possible to quantify the yield of nearby earthquakes or nuclear tests. They proved useful in identifying conventional explosions as well.

  • Explosives detectionDetecting, identifying explosives with single test

    A new test for detecting multiple explosives simultaneously has been developed. The proof-of-concept sensor is designed quickly to identify and quantify five commonly used explosives in solution to help track toxic contamination in waste water and improve the safety of public spaces.

  • Bomb detectionBomb detectors fraudster ordered to pay £1.2 million

    Gary Bolton, a convicted fraudster who made millions selling fake bomb detectors around the world, has been ordered by a court to pay more than £1 million. In August 2013 Bolton, 49, from Chatham in Kent, was sentenced to seven years in jail for the sale of more than 1,000 useless detectors that he claimed could track down bombs, drugs, ivory, and money. Bolton was one of several defendants convicted for their part in fake bomb detector scams. In 2013, James McCormick, a British businessman, was convicted of having made millions in profits from selling fake bomb detectors to Iraq, Georgia, and several other countries.

  • AviationTSA agents find record number of guns in carry-on luggage at airports

    TSA agents discovered 67 guns in carry-on luggage during the week which ended 17 September. The tally for the week broke an earlier record of 65 firearms found during one week in May 2013. TSAofficers found nearly 1,900 firearms in carry-on luggage between 1 January and 31 August 2015. This year is thus on track to see a 28 percent spike in the number of firearms found compared to the 2,212 guns — an average of about 40 a week — discovered by TSA agents in 2014.

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  • Explosives detection X-ray Scanning Rover offers a new level of explosives detection

    From conflict zones to airports to sporting events, bombs pose dangers for innocent civilians as well as the bomb technicians who regularly risk their lives to investigate suspicious objects and render the devices safe. Technology solutions can help first responders to see hidden dangers. To this end, the DHS S&T’s First Responders Group (FRG) is developing the X-Ray Scanning Rover (XSR) to be a responder’s eyes. It quickly and accurately scans packages and bags for leave-behind improvised explosive devices (LBIED) while keeping responders out of harm’s way. Unlike most existing scanners that use pulsed X-ray energy for detection, the XSR robot features a continuous, fan-shaped operating X-ray beam, permitting a higher degree of penetration through dense packaging.

  • ExplosivesCleaning explosives pollution with plants

    Biologists have taken an important step in making it possible to clean millions of hectares of land contaminated by explosives. The researchers have unraveled the mechanism of TNT toxicity in plants, raising the possibility of a new approach to explosives remediation technology. TNT has become an extensive global pollutant over the last 100 years and there are mounting concerns over its toxicity to biological systems.

  • Airport securityAirport body scanners fail to provide promised security

    Since 2008, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has spent $160 million on scanners to identify passengers which may be carrying weapons. These scanners, however, do not perform as well as was originally believed.Independent audits have found that the system provides weak protection against determined adversaries.A display of the mock weapons and explosives whichthat investigators were able to get through the scanners included various size folding knives, a kitchen knife, explosive-less hand grenades, a handled awl, a lighter, handguns, ammunition, a shotgun shell, various bludgeons, and a nunchaku.

  • LandminesNew 3-D camera technology to uncover hidden landmines

    It is estimated there are 110 million landmines buried across the world, with the potential to kill and maim innocent men, women, and children for decades to come. Yet landmine detection techniques have barely changed since the Second World War. The UN estimates that, using current technology, it would take more than 1,100 years to clear the estimated 110 million landmines situated in seventy countries. Researchers are exploring new landmine detection technologies.

  • DetectionUsing microwave technology to detect concealed weapons

    A team of researchers in Canada and the Ukraine funded by NATO which will be exploring ways to equip soldiers and law enforcement with gear that could detect concealed threats, such as guns and explosive devices, used by terrorists and security threats. The three-year project, which launched 1 July, will study how microwave radar signals sent from either rigged vests or tripods could detect trouble as far as fifteen meters away and send early warning signals of pending danger. These devices could be used anywhere from borders to airports to crowded public events to bars and hotels.

  • DetectionTerahertz sensor detects hidden objects faster

    A new type of sensor, which is much faster than competing technologies used to detect and identify hidden objects. Called “Q-Eye,” the invention senses radiation across the spectrum between microwaves and infra-red, known as the Terahertz (THz) region of the spectrum — a goal that has challenged scientists for over thirty years. It works by detecting the rise in temperature produced when electromagnetic radiation emitted by an object is absorbed by the Q-Eye sensor, even down to the level of very small packets of quantum energy (a single photon).

  • AviationAirport screeners missed 95% of mock explosives, weapons in tests; TSA acting director removed

    Following reports that screenings failed to detect mock explosives and weapons, carried out by undercover agents in tests, in 95 percent of cases, DHS secretary Jeh Johnson has ordered improved security at airports and reassigned Melvin Carraway, acting administrator of the TSA, to another role. DHS IG, in a forthcoming report, says that airport screeners, employed by TSA, did not detect banned weapons in 67 out of 70 tests at dozens of U.S. airports.

  • DetectionBetter detection of diseases, fraudulent art, chemical weapons, and more

    From airport security detecting explosives to art historians authenticating paintings, society’s thirst for powerful sensors is growing. Given that, few sensing techniques can match the buzz created by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). Discovered in the 1970s, SERS is a sensing technique prized for its ability to identify chemical and biological molecules in a wide range of fields. It has been commercialized, but not widely, because the materials required to perform the sensing are consumed upon use, relatively expensive and complicated to fabricate. That may soon change.

  • Tracking explosionsResearchers use seismic signals to track above-ground explosions

    Seismology has long been used to determine the source characteristics of underground explosions, such as yield and depth, and plays a prominent role in nuclear explosion monitoring. Now, however, some of the same techniques have been modified to determine the strength and source of near and above-ground blasts. Thus, researchers have determined that a tunnel bomb explosion by Syrian rebels was less than sixty tons as claimed by sources. Using seismic stations in Turkey, the researchers created a method to determine source characteristics of near-earth surface explosions. They found the above-ground tunnel bomb blast under the Wadi al-Deif Army Base near Aleppo last spring was likely not as large as originally estimated and was closer to forty tons.